Roderick McLean | Staff Writer
A peek at top NBA Draft prospects
With the NCAA Tournament over, it’s time to focus on the next step for a select few college basketball players: the NBA Draft. There are a large number of bright NBA prospects. Here are players who could have a big impact.
Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton is considered by many to be the best player in this year’s class. Ayton, a 7-0 big man, weighs 260 pounds. For his size, the former Arizona center has great coordination and runs the floor well.
The player he is most often compared to is David Robinson. However, a difference between the two is that Ayton has adapted to today’s style of play by being able to spot up on the floor, even the 3-point line.
His numbers in college were tremendous as Ayton averaged 20.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He is projected to be the first pick in the draft. The slot can go to a number of teams depending on the lottery, but there is no doubt that Ayton will have a significant impact wherever he goes.
Alabama freshman guard Collin Sexton is another big-time player. He was one of the most forceful guards in the country and plays with so much energy. Sexton is only 6-2 but is very physical and athletic. He’s great at absorbing contact and finishing at the rim.
Sexton has lightning speed, agility and ball handling, making him a great slasher. Not only does he slash well, but Sexton’s jump shot looks sure and very dangerous in the mid-range area. This season, he averaged 19.2 points, 3.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds. Sexton looks to be a top 10 pick and have the same effect in the NBA that he had in college.
Oklahoma’s Trae Young is often compared to Stephen Curry and Mike Bibby. During the first part of his freshman campaign, Young nearly averaged 30 points and nine assists per game his first 10 games. He’s just the fourth high-major freshman guard in seven years to record a usage rate higher than 30 percent.
Young has shown that he can hit the NBA 3 with his seemingly limitless range. He has a quick, compact release that doesn’t have any wasted motions. This has enabled Young to get his shot off extremely fast, even through tight spaces.
The Sooner has been most useful in a pick-and-roll style of play as it forces defenders to choose to defend him or the roller. One of the things scouts say Young needs to work on is getting stronger. Standing at just 6-2 and weighing in at 181 pounds, Young is relatively small.
In the NBA, this will be a concern due to so many players being absurdly athletic. Young averaged 27.4 points and 8.8 assists per game this season, which were remarkable numbers.
Michael Porter Jr.
Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. had a short season due to a back surgery. In the two games he played when he came back, Porter looked stiff and out of shape.
He has fantastic size as a wing forward at 6-10 with a 7-0 wingspan. He has an astounding jump shot to go along with his great rebounding ability. He tends to only rely on his shooting against a defensive half court and also doesn’t create a lot of off-the-dribble shots. His pull-up game is good, but can be predictable.